Frank Chin Essay - Chin, Frank (Drama Criticism)

Chin, Frank (Drama Criticism)


Frank Chin 1940-

(Full name Frank Chew Chin, Jr.) See also Frank Chin Literary Criticism.

Chin has played an important role in the development of Asian American literature. In his plays and other works, Chin has sought to overthrow the demeaning stereotypes imposed on Chinese Americans by white society. In The Chickencoop Chinaman and The Year of the Dragon he presents characters who struggle with the history (written from the perspective of white culture) of Asians in the United States, and who strive to forge an essentially American identity that nevertheless recognizes their cultural roots.


Chin was born in Berkeley, California, and was raised in the Chinatowns of Oakland and San Francisco. He attended the University of California at Berkeley and won a fellowship to the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa before receiving his bachelor's degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1965. After graduation, he took a job with the Southern Pacific Rail-road, becoming the first Chinese American brakeman in the company's history. Chin left the railroad in 1966 and began writing and producing documentaries for KING-TV in Seattle, Washington. Chin began his dramatic career in the early 1970s, staging The Chickencoop Chinaman in 1972 and The Year of the Dragon two years later. Both plays were produced off-Broadway by the American Place Theatre, making Chin the first Asian American to have work presented on a mainstream New York stage. In 1973 Chin formed the Asian American Theatre Workshop in San Francisco, and he remained its director until 1977. Since the 1980s Chin has had little involvement with theater, preferring to write fiction and essays on Chinese and Japanese history, culture, and literature. He has taught courses on Asian American subjects at San Francisco State University, the University of California at Berkeley, Davis, and Santa Barbara, and at the University of Oklahoma at Norman. He has also received a number of awards and fellowships throughout his career.


Chin's best-known plays, The Chickencoop Chinaman and The Year of the Dragon, were staged early 1970s, and the latter was aired on PBS television in 1975. The Chicken-coop Chinaman concerns Tam Lum, a documentary film-maker in search of his own identity as a Chinese American. Tam feels alienated from both Chinese and American cultures: American born, he knows Chinese culture only indirectly, and can speak little of the language; being of Chinese ancestry, however, he is isolated from and stereo-typed by white American society. In the course of the play he lashes out verbally with wit and anger, rejecting the myths surrounding Asian Americans but finding nothing to replace them. However, as the play ends, Tam is shown preparing Chinese food and reminiscing about the Iron Moonhunter, a train in Chinese American legend, built from materials stolen from the railroad companies. Thus Chin suggests Tarn's first efforts toward building an identity based on elements of the Chinese American experience. The Year of the Dragon also focuses on the search for identity but does so in the context of a Chinese American family. In this play Fred Eng, as a tour guide to San Francisco's Chinatown, panders to stereotypes of Chinese Americans. He also plays the role of dutiful son to his father, Pa Eng, a domineering figure who is now dying. Fred longs to leave Chinatown but has sacrificed his desires in order to earn money to pay college expenses for his sister, who has moved to Boston and married a white man. Fred's younger brother Johnny, meanwhile, is descending to a life of crime. Fred wants his brother to get away from Chinatown, but Pa Eng opposes the idea. In a confrontation between Fred and his father on this issue, Pa Eng dies, never having publicly acknowledged his son's worth. The play closes with Fred still in Chinatown, continuing to play the hated role of Chinatown tour guide.


Chin is recognized as an important voice in Asian American drama, even though he has withdrawn from active participation in the theater. Regarding his rejection of the contemporary theatrical scene, Chin has remarked, "Asian American theatre is dead without ever having been born, and American theatre, like American writing has found and nurtured willing Gunga Dins, happy white racist tokens, with which to pay their lip service to yellows and call it dues.… I am out of theatre. I will not work with any theatre, producer, writer, director, or actor who has played and lives the stereotype." Such views, expressed within his plays as well as in essays and interviews, have made Chin a controversial figure. Some reviewers have been put off by the bitterness of Chin's outlook and have criticized his plays as strident. John Simon has likened Chin's plays to soap opera and censured his "tendency to attitudinize." Elaine H. Kim has detected an ambivalence on Chin's part toward his characters. In his plays, she states, "Chin flails out at the emasculating effects of oppression, but he accepts his oppressors' definition of 'masculinity.' The result is unresolved tension between contempt and desire to fight for his Asian American characters." David Hsin-Fu Wand, on the other hand, has interpreted this ambivalence as reflective of Chin's own internal conflicts: "The voices of his characters in the plays are basically the conflicting voices of his Chinese and American identities." Dorothy Ritsuko McDonald has placed this division within the context of the playwright's concern with history; Chin, she argues, possesses a "sense of Chinese American history as a valiant, vital part of the history of the American West, a history he believes his own people, under the stress of white racism, have forgotten or wish to forget in their eagerness to be assimilated into the majority culture." Chin's work, then, attempts to reverse this process, rejecting assimilation and recuperating what historically was cast off by Asian Americans: their differences from the dominant culture.

Principal Works


The Chickencoop Chinaman 1972

The Year of the Dragon 1974

Gee, Pop! … A Real Cartoon 1974

America More or Less [with Amiri Baraka and Leslie Marmon Silko] 1976

Lullaby [with Silko] 1976

American Peek-a-Boo Kabuki, World War II and Me 1985

Flood of Blood: A Fairy Tale 1988


Seattle Repertory Theatre: Act Two (television documentary) 1966

The Bel Canto Carols (television documentary) 1966

A Man and His Music (television documentary) 1967

Ed Sierer's New Zealand (television documentary) 1967

Seafair Preview (television documentary) 1967

The Year of the Ram (television documentary) 1967

And Still Champion … ! The Story of Archie Moore (television documentary) 1967

Mary (television documentary) 1969

Rainlight Rainvision (television documentary) 1969

Chinaman's Chance (television documentary) 1971

Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian American Writers [editor, with others] (anthology) 1974

Yardbird Reader, Volume 3 [editor, with Shawn Wong] (anthology) 1974

The Chinaman Pacific & Frisco R.R. Co. (short stories) 1988

Rescue at Wild Boar Forest (comic book) 1988

The Water Margin, or Shui Hu (comic book) 1989

Lin Chong's Revenge (comic book) 1989

Donald Duk (novel) 1991

The Big Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Chinese American and Japanese American Literature [editor, with others] (anthology) 1991

Gunga Din Highway (novel) 1994

Overviews And General Studies

David Hsin-Fu Wand (essay date 1978)

SOURCE: "The Chinese-American Literary Scene: A Galaxy of Poets and a Lone Playwright," in Proceedings of the Comparative Literature Symposium, Vol. IX, 1978, pp. 121-46.

[In the excerpt below, Wand asserts that in his plays Chin has "projected onto the stage his own internal conflicts."]

Although Frank Chin has written prose-fiction and some occasional poems, he is first and foremost a dramatist. Like the protagonists (or heroes), Tarn Lum in The Chickencoop Chinaman and Fred Eng in The Year of the Dragon, "his own 'normal' speech jumps between black and white rhythms and accents." Sometimes, he probably feels like Tam Lum that he has "no real language of my own to make sense with, so out comes everybody else's trash that don't conceive." The protagonists of his two plays are both in conflict, obsessed with the problem of identity. Tam (short for Tampax) Lum in The Chicken-coop Chinaman, who has been victimized by the white world that surrounds him, is ambivalent toward the Chinese, as characterized by the following dialogue couched in irony:

Robbie: You're Chinese aren't you? I like Chinese people.

Tam: Me too. They're nice and quiet aren't they?

This ambivalence is further shown by Tam Lum's acceptance of the Lone Ranger as a hero. In his list of characters, Frank Chin describes the Lone Ranger as follows:

A legendary white racist with the funk of the West mouldering in his blood. In his senility, he still loves racistly, blesses racistly, shoots straight and is coocoo with the notion that white folks are not white folks but just plain folks.

In the action of the play, the Lone Ranger not only gets away with shooting a silver bullet into Tam Lum's hand, but also lectures him, as he rides away:

China boys, you be legendary obeyers of the law, legendary humble, legendary passive. Thank me now and I'll let you get back to Chinatown preservin your culture.

He further insults Tam Lum by making him a "honorary white" and relegates him to the company of Pearl Buck, Charlie Chan, and Helen Keller. To Frank Chin, Helen Keller, who lacks a voice of her own, is the image of a passive Oriental. Early in The Chickencoop Chinaman, Tam Lum has remarked about Helen Keller ironically:

Helen Keller overcame her handicaps without riot! She overcame handicaps without looting! She overcame handicaps without violence! And you Chinks and Japs can too.

Not contented with being an "honorary white" or whitemen's pet Chinaman, Tam Lum tries to find a voice of his own to articulate his own consciousness. He lashes out at the synthetic Chinamen, "who are made, not born—out of junk imports, lies, railroad scrap iron, dirty jokes, broken bottles, cigar smoke, Cosquilla Indian blood, wino spit, and lots of milk of amnesia." He articulates his own agony by shouting:

[I was] no more born than nylon or acrylic. For I am a Chinaman! A miracle synthetic. Drip dry and machine washable.

In The Chickencoop Chinaman, Tam Lum has only one close friend, Kenji, a Japanese-American "research dentist" who lives in the depth of Pittsburgh's black slum called "Oakland." Kenji, who gathers around him some bizarre characters living at his expense, shares with Tam Lum the problem of identity. Nicknamed "BlackJap Kenji," the dentist denies that he is a "copycat," that he is imitating black people:

I know I live with 'em, I talk like 'em, I dress … maybe even eat what they eat and don't mess with, so what if I don't mess with other Orientals … Asians, whatever, blah, blah, blah …

He also goes on to state:

I'm not Japanese! Tam ain't no Chinese! And don't give me any of that "If-you-don't-have-that-Oriental-culture, -baby, -all-you've-got-is-the-color-of-your-skin," bullshit.…

Living in a black ghetto and going to a school where the majority were black, Kenji had to adapt in order to survive:

Schools was all blacks and Mexicans. We [Kenji and Tam Lum] were kids in school, and you either walked and talked right in the yard, or got the shit beat outa you every day, ya understand? But that Tam was always what you might say … "The Pacesetter." Whatever was happenin with hair, or the latest color, man—Sometimes he looked pretty exotic, you know, shades, high greasy hair, spitcurls, purple shiney shirt, with skull cufflinks and Frisko jeans worn like they was fallin off his ass. "BlackJap Kenji" I used to be called and hated yellow-people. You look around and see where I'm livin … and it looks like I still do, Pittsburgh ain't exactly famous for no Chinatown or Li'l Tokyo, you know.

Here Kenji has given a brilliant explanation of his strange identity. Having lived as a minority in the heart of a black ghetto, he has adopted the values and mores of his immediate environment. From the psychological point of view, introjection is what made him more black than Japanese in behavior.

The plot of The Chickencoop Chinaman revolves around Tam Lum's coming to Pittsburgh to make a documentary film about a black boxer and to interview Charley Popcorn, whom the boxer has claimed to be his real father. But Charley Popcorn, who runs a pornographic movie house in Pittsburgh, denies that he is the father and claims that he was only the boxer's manager. Here we find another case of the problem of identity. Perhaps the boxer has chosen to live with the myth, just as Tam Lum, since his childhood, has chosen the Lone Ranger as his cultural hero and expected to find Chinese eyes behind his mask. The problem of identity is never resolved for either Tam Lum or Kenji in the course of the play, but in the last scene Tam Lum ends up in the kitchen, whetting his meat cleaver. This meat cleaver, like Frank Chin's own pen, may chop away much nonsense about white America's stereotyped images of the silent and docile Orientals.

As compared with The Chickencoop Chinaman, Chin's second play, The Year of the Dragon, has more recognizable Chinese characters, because all the conflicts and headaches take place in an old apartment located in San Francisco's Chinatown. Fred Eng, the protagonist of the play, shares with Tam Lum his eloquence and he uses it to "badmouth" tourists who come to gawk at Chinatown. Making his living as a Chinatown tour guide, he still lives at the Chinatown apartment of his parents. Although he is already in his forties, he cannot get away from his parents, partly because of the antiquated Chinese tradition of filial duty and partly because of self-doubts and internal conflicts. Fred finds his antagonist in his father, who rules the family with an iron hand. The family affair is further complicated by the arrival of "China Mama," the first wife Pa left behind in China in 1935. Ma Eng, American-born and raised, tries hard to be a peacemaker in the family, but it is a thankless task because there is a real conflict of three cultures. The three cultures are represented by the traditional Chinese ways of Pa Eng and "China Mama," the Chinese-American ways of herself and Fred, and the assimilated American ways of Sissy and Johnny, Fred's younger sister and brother. Sissy manages to escape from the problem of identity by marrying a white American and living away in Boston. But when she visits her parents in San Francisco, she finds herself caught in the storm of the conflict. Johnny, who can hardly speak a word of Chinese, has become a tough street kid, plagued by a sense of displacement. Fred Eng, born in China but raised in America, tries to help his younger brother and urges him to move away from home. Torn by filial piety for his parents on the one hand and hatred for the iron-clad Chinese tradition on the other, he lashes out at Pa Eng, the family patriarch, who retaliates by threatening to die. The generation gap or lack of communication between the generations may remind some Chinese readers of that in Pa Chin's novel, Family (1931). The protagonist in Family tries to discover his identity and chart a new course for his own generation. He rejects the tradition of the past as irrelevant to his time.

As Bernard Shaw once said, "Without conflict there is no drama," Frank Chin has projected onto the stage his own internal conflicts in the two plays, The Chicken-coop Chinaman and The Year of the Dragon. The voices of his characters in the plays are basically the conflicting voices of his Chinese and his American identities. … Frank Chin shows a sense of humor. His humor is shown through the dialogue and the characterization in his plays. … His humor is mordant and bitter. In this respect, he might be more American than Chinese, an heir of Mark Twain, who wrote such dark tales as "The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg" and "The Mysterious Stranger," rather than a literary descendant of Chuang Tzu and the classical Chinese poet-drunkards. But his contribution to the stage is substantial: for the first time in the theater there is an authentic Chinese-American voice. He has demolished the stage Chinaman with his plays and succeeded in articulating his own consciousness. In a strange but different way, Frank Chin's work in the theater reminds us of the effort of that Irish genius, James Joyce, who tries to "forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race," and, in Frank Chin's case, "the race" is neither the Chinese of the distant land nor the American of the white establishment, but the hitherto unheard and unsung world of the Chinese-Americans.

Dorothy Ritsuko McDonald (essay date 1981)

SOURCE: An introduction to "The Chickencoop Chinaman" and "The Year of the Dragon": Two Plays by Frank Chin, University of Washington Press, 1981, pp. ix-xxix.

[In the essay below, McDonald analyzes Chin's treatment of Chinese American history in his plays.]

1. The Author's Sense of History

"I was born in Berkeley, California in 1940, far from Oakland's Chinatown where my parents lived and worked," begins Frank Chin in his own profile. "I was sent away to the Motherlode country where I was raised through the War. Then back to Chinatowns Oakland and San Francisco. … " When offered a fellowship in 1961 for the State University of Iowa's Writer's Workshop, Chin accepted, but soon he was back in the West. "I was the first Chinese-American brakeman on the Southern Pacific Railroad, the first Chinaman to ride the engines… . fine riding but I left the rails."

Chinatown, Motherlode country (the Sierra Nevadas), railroads, Chinaman—these are key words for Frank Chin, for they denote his sense of Chinese American history as a valiant, vital part of the history of the American West, a history he believes his own people, under the stress of white racism, have forgotten or wish to forget in their eagerness to be assimilated into the majority culture. But the cost of acceptance has been great, especially for the Chinese male, who finds himself trapped by a stereotype: supposedly lacking in assertiveness, creativity, and aggressiveness, he is characterized as passive, obedient, humble, and effeminate.

For Chin, however, the Chinese men ("Chinamans" as distinguished from assimilated Chinese Americans) who left their families for the New World in the nineteenth century were masculine and heroic, like other "explorers of the unknown—seekers after gold, the big break, the new country …" ["Back Talk," News of the American Place Theatre 3 May 1972]. But the Chinese pioneers encountered a systematic and violent racism which by now has been well documented. Even Mark Twain, who harbored his own prejudice against the Indians of the West, remarked [in Roughing It] on the unjust treatment of the Chinese:

Any white man can swear a Chinaman's life away in the courts, but no Chinaman can testify against a white man. Ours is the "land of the free"—nobody denies that—nobody challenges it. (Maybe it is because we won't let other people testify.) As I write, news comes that in broad daylight in San Francisco, some boys have stoned an inoffensive Chinaman to death and although a large crowd witnessed the shame-ful deed, no one interfered.

To Chin, Chinatowns were also the products of racism. That the Chinese themselves clustered together to preserve their alien culture is for him a myth: "The railroads created a detention camp and called it 'Chinatown.' The details of that creation have been conveniently forgotten or euphemized into a state of sweet confusion. The men who lived through the creation are dying out, unheard and ignored. When they die, no one will know it was not us that created a game preserve for Chinese and called it 'Chinatown'" ["Confessions of the Chinatown Cowboy," Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars 4, Fall 1972].

Given this historical perspective, is it any wonder that echoes of the West would resound in the work of this fifth-generation American, imbued with the aborted dreams of the hardworking, manly goldminers and railroad builders of his past? In Chin's first play, The Chickencoop Chinaman, the hero, Tarn Lum, tells his children of the pioneers' old American dream:

Grandmaw heard thunder in the Sierra hundreds of miles away and listened for the Chinaman-known Iron Moonhunter, that train built by Chinamans who knew they'd never be given passes to ride the rails they laid. So of all American railroaders, only they sung no songs, told no jokes, drank no toasts to the ol' iron horse, but stole themselves some iron on the way, slowly stole up a pile of steel, children, and hid there in the granite face of the Sierra and builded themselves a wild engine to take them home. Every night, children, grandmaw listened in the kitchen, waiting, til the day she died.

The Iron Moonhunter, that seeker after the dream, carries the memories and hopes of the proud Chinamen who laid rails across the West.

Chin's grandfather worked as a steward on the Southern Pacific and owned a watch with a train engraved upon it. "I took my grandfather's watch and worked on the Southern Pacific," says Chin. "I rode in the engines up front… . I rode in the cabooses where no Chinaman had ever ridden before. I was hired with the first batch of blacks to go braking for the SP, in the 60s when the fair employment legislation went into effect. (Ride with me grandpa, at least it's not the steward service. You get home more often now.)"

In his essay "Confessions of the Chinatown Cowboy," from which the previous quote was taken, Chin describes that rare Western breed, the modern-day Chinaman, in poet and labor-organizer Ben Fee: "a word of mouth legend, a bare knuckled unmasked man, a Chinaman loner out of the old West, a character out of Chinese swordslingers, a fighter. The kind of Chinaman we've been taught to ignore, and forget if we didn't want America to drive Chinatown out of town."

It was Ben Fee who called Chin the "Chinatown Cowboy" for the dramatic black outfit he wore during their first meeting. "A Chinaman dressed for a barndance," says Chin of his younger self, "solid affectation."

Despite the self-irony displayed here, the black-garbed, two-fang-buckled Chin is obviously no assimilated Chinese; he is declaring his aggressive masculinity and claiming the history of the American West as his own. For the unwary reader, then, who rigidly associates Asian Americans with Asian culture and not American history or culture, some passages in Chin's plays can be disconcerting if not downright incomprehensible or offensive. To such a reader, the meaning of Tarn's lyrical monologue on the Iron Moonhunter would be lost. And what of the Lone Ranger metaphor that dominates the balance of the play? Aware that Asians were excluded from American heroism, Tam Lum during his boyhood had idolized the black-haired Lone Ranger, whose mask, he thought, hid his "slanty" eyes. But in a farcical scene the Ranger is revealed to be a broken-down white racist. A train whistle is heard, and the young Tam recognizes it as that of the Iron Moonhunter. But the Ranger cautions Tam and his friend: "Hear no evil, ya hear me? China boys, you be legendary obeyers of the law, legendary humble, legendary passive. Thank me now and I'll let ya get back to Chinatown preservin your culture!"

Chin's historical perspective is similarly found in his next play, The Year of the Dragon, set in San Francisco's Chinatown. The theme of the West is sounded by the family in various ways, especially in the climactic last scene when Pa Eng dies suddenly while struggling with Fred, who later says, "I woulda like to have packed him up into the Sierras and buried him by the railroad … I was saving that one for last… ."

2. An Endangered Species

If Chin seeks to preserve the history of the first pioneering Chinamen, he nonetheless looks forward in time and sees—as does Fred Eng in The Year of the Dragon—the Chinese Americans as an "endangered species." Not only are the Chinese women like Mattie marrying out white at a rapidly increasing rate, in part no doubt due to the present "sissy" image of the Chinese male, but women have always been outnumbered by men. Historically, the series of discriminatory exclusion laws (1882-1924) made it difficult, then impossible, for both alien and American Chinese to bring their wives from China. Chinatown was therefore essentially a bachelor society. In addition, an American-born woman lost her citizenship when she married a person ineligible for citizenship; and by the Exclusion Act of 1882, immigrant Chinese could not be naturalized. These laws were repealed in 1943 during the Second World War when China was an ally of the United States.

In The Year of the Dragon, it is mainly through the American-born Ma Eng that the reader discerns this historical discrimination. She tells Ross: "My grandmother, Ross … she used to tell me she used to come home oh, crying like a sieve cuz all she saw was blocks and blocks of just men. No girls at all. She was very lonely." More-over, she says of her daughter: "You know … my Sissy is a very limited edition. Only twenty Chinese babies born in San Francisco in 1938." When she discovers that the mysterious visitor in her home is her husband's first wife, who had to be left in China because of the Exclusion Act of 1924 and now could enter America because of its repeal, she says: "I coulda been deported just for marrying your pa. The law scared me to death but it make your pa so thrilling to me. I'm American of Chinese descent… ."

However, had Ma Eng, by some stretch of imagination, desired to marry a white American, it would have been illegal at that time, for in California such an intermarriage was forbidden in 1906 by a law which was not nullified until 1948. But at the time of the play not only are the Matties marrying out white, so are the males. Thus, Fred tells Ross, "it's a rule not the exception for us to marry out white. Out in Boston, I might even marry me a blonde." Later, while urging his juvenile-delinquent brother, Johnny, to leave Chinatown for Boston and college, he adds, "Get a white girl while you're young. You'll never regret it."

This urge toward assimilation and extinction is similarly found in The Chickencoop Chinaman when Tam Lum, though a loner in the play, is revealed to have been previously married to a white woman who had deserted him, leaving with his two children to take a white husband. During Tarn's subsequent effort to restore his dignity, a member of the aging bachelor society advised him about survival in a hostile America: destroy and forget the past; get along with the "Americans."

In an essay entitled "Yellow Seattle" [in The Weekly: Seattle's Newsmagazine, 1 February 1976], Chin repeats his conviction that not only Chinese America but Japanese America is historically doomed, a prediction also made by UCLA sociologist Harry Kitano [in Pacific Citizen, 25 February 1977]. "Nationally," says Chin, "between 60 and 70 percent of Japanese Americas are marrying out white. They're abandoning the race, giving up on a people they feel has no history, identity, culture, or art. Chinese Americans aren't far behind… . The process of marrying out faster than we can reproduce seems irreversible."

This conviction casts a veil of tragedy over his work, despite its frequently humorous tone. One can see chronologically in his plays an increasing disintegration of both family and self. His heroes, like so many other American heroes, are isolated and wounded. They are articulate but incapable of the action necessary to fulfill the hope and promise of the past.

3. The Chickencoop Chinaman: The Search for the Ideal Father

Chin is a developing artist, and his first play, which won the East West Players playwriting contest in 1971 and was produced by the American Place Theatre of New York in 1972, is a feast of ideas, a sourcebook of...

(The entire section is 8944 words.)

The Chickencoop Chinaman


Michael Feingold (review date 15 June 1972)

SOURCE: "Portnoy's Chinese Complaint," in The Village Voice, 15 June 1972, p. 56.

[Feingold offers a mixed assessment of The Chicken-coop Chinaman, arguing that, "though blossoming all over with good writing, well-caught characters, and sharply noted situations, [it] is only about three-quarters finished as a play."]

The Chickencoop Chinaman will not be serving your shrimp Szechuan in a family restaurant, nor is he likely to be the one demanding a tickee when you go to pick up your shirts at the laundry. Tam Lum, the title character of...

(The entire section is 3454 words.)

Critical Commentary

Elaine H. Kim (essay date 1982)

SOURCE: "Chinatown Cowboys and Warrior Women: Searching for a New Self-image," in Asian American Literature: an Introduction to the Writings and Their Social context, Temple University Press, 1982, pp. 173-213.

[In the following excerpt, Kim examines Chin's depiction of the struggle to define a uniquely Asian American male identity in The Chickencoop Chinaman and other works.]

Chin views Chinese American history as a wholesale and systematic attempt to emasculate the Chinese American male. Racist laws "warred against us … to deny our manhood, to drive us out of the country, to kill us… . [T]wenty to...

(The entire section is 2658 words.)

The Year Of The Dragon


Clive Barnes (review date 3 June 1974)

SOURCE: "Culture Study," in The New York Times, 3 June 1974, p. 39.

[In the following mixed review of the New York production of The Year of the Dragon, Barnes finds the play's "insights into the Chinese community" "absolutely fascinating" but also judges it lacking in energy.]

We have a great deal of theater in black and white but not too much in yellow. The American Place Theater, and its director, Wynn Handman, have been encouraging the Chinese-American writer Frank Chin. Last season Mr. Chin gave us The Chickencoop Chinaman, and this...

(The entire section is 2074 words.)